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1996 Inductees

Alphus LeFevre

By January 1, 2018May 5th, 2021No Comments

Inducted 1996

ALPHUS LeFEVRE

(1912 – 1988)

Alphus LeFevre was a founding member, the lead musician/arranger and tenor voice, of the legendary Southern Gospel group The LeFevres.

Alphus LeFevre circa 1965

Alphus LeFevre was an original member of the LeFevre Trio and the musical innovator of the long-enduring family group The LeFevres. Alphus began singing with his older brother Urias and older sister Maude as a young boy growing up in Smithville, Tennessee. The young LeFevre threesome, with Alphus playing guitar, fiddle and singing tenor, were performing publicly as early as the 1920s. The group’s personnel changed and expanded beyond a trio through the years so their name changed to “The LeFevres.” The family group would go on to influence Southern Gospel music for decades and throughout most of that time Alphus was the high tenor voice and the group’s musical mastermind. The LeFevres were immensely successful through radio, television and live performances from the 1940s up through the 1970s.

In 1921 Alphus was discovered after winning a fiddle championship when just nine years old. After seeing him win the competition, the owner of the local general store had the LeFevre siblings play all day on the front porch of the store for payment of cheese and crackers.

In 1929, while attending college with Urias at The Bible Training School of the Church of God (later Lee University), Alphus and Urias embarked on their first serious involvement as gospel music performers as members of the Bible Training School Quartet. “The Bible Training School Quartet was very smooth,” Alphus said years later. “We had teamwork down to perfection, and could sing acapella or do counterpoint.”

In 1934 after college, the brother’s singing careers kept moving forward with a version of The LeFevre Trio which included Urias’ new wife, Eva Mae. An accomplished piano player and vocalist, Eva Mae immediately became the group’s alto singer and favorite public personality.

The depression years were tough on The LeFevre Trio but they were one of the few groups that did not break up. During the deepest part of the depression, the LeFevres signed on as one of the many traveling music representatives of the long-established James D. Vaughan Music Company in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. As the depression dragged on, the LeFevres moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 1937 where they landed on a live radio show and would often sing for their home church. Alphus had a side job in a music store and Urias sold cars to help make ends meet.

Having survived the depression, the LeFevre families moved to Atlanta in 1939 where prospects soon changed for the better when they landing a spot on WGST radio, a ten-thousand-watt station that reached several states. In 1940 they made several transcription recordings that were distributed to various radio stations in the region and one particular song, Beautiful Flowers, sold fifty-thousand copies in ten days in the Atlanta market alone.

The world changed on December 7, 1941 and so did life for Alphus and the LeFevres. The group was literally singing live on WGST radio when the announcer broke into the program and announced that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Like millions of young men and women, Alphus and Urias and were called into military service; Alphus in the Navy’s Signal Corps, serving in New Guinea and the Philippines.

Although Alphus spent a short period of time with The Stamps Quartet right after WWII, he soon rejoined Urias and Eva Mae and The LeFevre’s flourished in the post WWII years, releasing a string of recordings and keeping up a busy concert schedule, especially within a day’s driving distance of Atlanta. They would eventually record for Word Records and their own Sing Records label.

A singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, author and publisher, Alphus, who eventually became known to the public as “Uncle Alf”, was respected as one of the most accomplished craftsmen of Southern Gospel music. With his recognizable high tenor voice, distinguished smile and a reputation as a master musician, Alphus was comfortable on almost any string instrument. He was proficient at piano, banjo, fiddle, accordion, Dobro, mandolin, and guitar. Uncle Alf was also known for his skill of arranging five and six-part harmonies so famously performed by The LeFevre Family.

After decades as part of Southern Gospel music’s upper echelon, the LeFevres began retiring in the late 1970s and sold their various gospel music businesses. When Alphus retired from The LeFevres he started a new group in 1977 with his adult children, The Alphus LeFevre Singers. Alphus continued to travel and sing until his death in December 1988.

Alphus’ accolades were many, including nominations for Dove Awards and a Grammy Award. Alphus penned over 30 songs, including: Close to the Master, Let Me Tell You About Jesus and was most recognized for his arrangements of Keep on the Firing Line and Old Gospel Ship.

In addition to the GMA Hall of Fame, Alphus was posthumously inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame (2002) joining 1997 inductees Urias and Eva Mae.

Additional notes of interest:  

Alphus had perfect pitch, played 41 instruments and at one time tested very high on an IQ test.

See additional GMA Hall of Fame entries for: Eva Mae LeFevre, Urias LeFevre, The LeFevres, Maurice LeFevre, Mylon LeFevre

Content written/edited by GMA Hall of Fame staff member Jon Robberson Sr. with primary source
contributions by the LeFevre family (March 2021).

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